Best Buy: The End of Indian Summer... Little Indians

By Steve Emerick


2.5 Indian Closeup

$2.5 Indians Mint State 65

Sometimes things just work out...

It wasn't the plan, but the Indian summer continues! After shining the light on the MS-64 $10 Indian in July, and the MS-65 $5 Indian in August, Ryan Kirsch (who sits right beside me), said we should offer the $2.5 Indian in September and call it the 'end of Indian Summer.'

It's nice to say, but to be a Spotlight Coin, it has to make sense for you. A Spotlight Coin has to be the right coin at the right price. It has to be a value play, and put you in a position to succeed.

Then, wouldn't you know, I received a call from one of my best wholesalers. He said he has a limited supply of fantastic MS-65 $2.5 Indians. I just about fell out of my chair.

So... after showcasing the superbly-priced $10 and $5 Indians in July and August, this month, we're pleased to offer you $2.5 Indian quarter eagles in Gem Uncirculated.

This is a small coin with big upside.

Like its larger cousins, the $2.5 Indian is a beautiful, fascinating coin, trading at historic lows. While underpriced in all uncirculated grades, MS65 specimens offer the most power potential. We are able to offer the MS-65 $2.5 Indian at not only $600+ dollars (23%) below current price guides, but also 70+% lower than its high in the past decade. After peaking at over $8,500 in 2005, MS65 coins can be had for less than $2,000 today. Furthermore, MS65 is the highest affordable grade; collectors can expect to pay over $10,000 for $2.5 Indians graded MS66. With so much 'room to run' compared to its all-time high—and compared to the value of an MS66—the MS65 $2.5 Indian is an outstanding value.

If ever there was a time to add a spotlight coin to your portfolio, this could be it. Call 877-340-2250 or email me today to purchase your 'right coin at the right price.'

History – Design - Rarity

The $2.5 quarter eagle was one of the first of three gold denominations introduced, along with the $5 half eagle and $10 eagle. The first year of production was 1796, when only 1,395 pieces were struck. Mintages remained paltry over the following decade or so — and then in 1809 the denomination was put on hiatus altogether. The quarter eagle was brought back in 1821, but the quantities released were still anemic at best. On average, just a few thousand pieces were struck each year. By comparison, the Philadelphia Mint struck 5-10 times as many $5 half eagles.

By the mid-1830s, quarter eagle production started to increase. Thanks to inflation, $2.50 no longer represented a huge amount of money to the average American, and there was no paper money to handle larger transactions. Not until 1865 did the United States issue $2 and $5 notes; in the 1830's, such amounts most likely had to be handled with gold coins only. Furthermore, silver dollars had not been produced in 30 years, so the $2.5 quarter eagle filled the 'sweet spot' between the half-dollar and the $5 half eagle.

Remarkably, the $2.5 quarter eagle was produced continuously from 1834 through 1907, without interruption. This is a testament to how heavily the coin was used in everyday commerce. While the $5, $10 and $20 coins were often used for interbank transfers, the $2.5 quarter eagle was more likely to be used by the average American. Even more remarkable is, the coin did not undergo a single design change from 1840 through 1907—a record for any United States coin.

As many of our clients have learned from the July and August spotlight articles, Theodore Roosevelt demanded America's gold coinage be redesigned. The $2.5 gold piece was the poster child for why Roosevelt issued this command; after 65+ years of monotony, a refresh was badly needed. While one could argue the $2.5 was most in need of change, it was actually the last of the four gold denominations to be transformed. The U.S. Mint overhauled the $10 and $20 coins first in 1907, and then tackled the two smaller denominations in 1908.

The new 1907 $10 and $20 coins required a tremendous amount of adjustment and revision. Both coins went through a number of prototypes, trial runs and failed design adaptations. We can only assume by 1908, the U.S. Mint staff was exhausted and badly wanted a simpler redesign process. Once Bela Lyon Pratt's $5 Indian motif was perfected for production, it was decided the same design would appear on the $2.5 gold piece. Much to their relief, all the Mint had to do was adjust the size. The beautiful incused $5 Indian design, while innovative and unique, did not require much 'tweaking' for the quarter eagle.

Like the $5 Indian, the $2.5 Indian was struck continuously from 1908-1915. With the advent of World War I however, production halted and would not return until 1925. The $2.5 Indian was then phased out in 1929 with the onset of the Great Depression. What little gold came into the U.S. Mint in the early 1930s was converted into $10 and $20 coins; the smaller denominations were completely ignored.

Finally, all circulating United States gold coin production ended permanently in 1933 with Executive Order 6102. This directive, signed by Franklin Roosevelt, forbid the possession of gold coins or bullion in the United States.

FDR's order resulted in enormous quantities of gold coins being melted. Most Americans turned in whatever savings they had in gold for paper money or silver dollars. Foreign banks (which were exempt from this order) were holding on to significant quantities of larger-denominated gold coins; most quarter eagles were held by ordinary citizens. As a result, comparatively few quarter eagles survived the 1933 order compared to the $5, $10 and $20 denominations.

Today, out of all the 20th century U.S. gold denominations, $2.5 Indians are the hardest to locate. Even in low grades, they trade for 50-100% over melt (compared to just 10-15% over melt for the three larger gold coins). In Gem Uncirculated condition, the coin becomes extremely scarce. Of all the $2.5 Indians still in existence, numismatists estimate that under 1% qualify for the MS65 grade. MS66 specimens are virtually impossible to find; perhaps just one tenth of a percent of all $2.5 Indians exist at that lofty grade.


When NGC began covering the MS65 $2.5 Indian in 2005, the coin was trading in the $7,000-$8,500 range. It retreated from this level in 2006 and eventually settled in the $4,250-$5,000 range. However, values surged again in 2008, as the coin raced back past $6,000. The coin corrected again in 2009 and 2010, when it bounced around the $3,750-$4,500 range. It eventually settled into a channel in the mid to high $2,000's. Today, NGC pegs the MS65 $2.5 Indian at $2,600. By comparison, even the most available dates in MS66 are valued by NGC at a minimum of $11,750.

September Spotlight Chart

  • In July 2005, this coin traded for $8,000 - around 156 times its weight in gold! With gold trading at $1,300 today, 156 times melt would be worth just over $20,000!
  • After dropping to around $4,000 in the middle of 2007, the $2.5 in MS65 bounced back to over $6,000 the following year!
  • With today's spot price over $1,300, and a retail price of only $2,600- these coins are trading at only 16 times melt!

September Spotlight Chart 2

From a buying standpoint, the summer has always been productive for us. Historically we've made some of our best purchases in the summer months—and 2014 was no exception. While dealers and collectors were focused on warm weather and vacations, we were offering some intriguing groups. One such example was the current 'deal' of MS65 $2.5 Indians that, if bought in the spring, would have cost us 20-40% more. Not only was the price right, but the coins met our quality standards. These MS65s are perfectly struck with complete design detail, possess strong luster, display clean surfaces and have outstanding eye appeal. Upon inspection, you can see why they reached the MS65 mark for quality.

Just a great coin for a great price...

At today's deeply discounted levels, Gem Uncirculated $2.5 Indians are an outstanding value. After peaking at $8,500 in 2005, they can now be purchased for under $2,000. Since PCGS and NGC were established in the late 1980s, MS65 $2.5 Indians have never been this affordable. With MS66 specimens worth in excess of $10,000, we feel MS65s have ample room to appreciate.

This is not a coin available in large quantities; a surge of collector interest would have a dramatic impact on prices. At a 70% discount compared to its value in the next grade and its 10-year high, we could not endorse this coin more enthusiastically.

With a deal this good we have a limited supply... This month we have less than 30 of the following MS65 $2.5 Indians (either NGC or PCGS certified):

MS65 $2.5 Indians $1,950* per coin
Our choice of the following dates: 1925-D, 1926, 1927, 1928

This is the delivered price – there is no additional cost for shipping, handling or insurance. While supplies last, the price you see is the price you pay.

Call – 877-340-0790 - or e-mail me today to purchase your coins and to take advantage of the lowest prices in years.

* Prices are subject to change based upon product availability and due to market fluctuation.

Contact Us

877-340-2234 (US & Canada)


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